Sylvester Stallone has never really been one for great acting roles, but with the first Rocky and Rambo films did at least make best use of his fairly limited range. For my money, the Rocky films were simply more of the same, but the Rambo films did get appreciably worse and changed the emphasis of the plot to John Rambo simply doing heroic things while looking grizzled and shooting people. First Blood sees Rambo as a returning serviceman who is cast out from a small town by the sherrif and then hunted down when he refuses to leave. This sets up the film as more of a chase thriller than an action film and as such, Goldsmith's score does contain a larger proportion of suspense compared to action.
The opening track is something of a red herring with acoustic guitar and wistful trumpet performing his really quite gorgeous main theme. I'm sure it conveys the loner aspect of the lead character better than any of Stallone's acting. The theme is surprisingly malleable and features here in guises from the more sombre, to heroic during the action sequences, most notably in moments such as Mountain Hunt. It also survives in the sequel scores and is possibly the only shred of dignity that the sequels take from the original. Goldsmith's action writing during the 80's was at a peak and First Blood is no exception with hugely complex counterpoint of brass, percussion, low end piano and the trademark high end strings. A small amount of synth bass line is employed on occasion and while it doesn't detract in any way, certainly seems unncessary next to the bravura of the orchestral writing and notably excellent performance.
The score was originally released by Intrada, but this release on Varese features the exact same music and sound quality, with some packaging differences. The liner notes aren't that extensive, but provide a useful background to the film and score. Any Goldsmith fan without this album is missing out another top Goldsmith action/suspense effort by a composer at the top of his craft.